BoardUp Longboard Review: The Ultimate Portable Longboard?

Do you have to choose between a full-size longboard and a portable one? Or, more to the point, should you have to choose? If you find yourself trying to decide between a Penny board and longboard, the perfect solution may just be the BoardUp longboard (check the current price on Amazon).

What separates the BoardUp longboard from a typical portable board is engineering. The BoardUp folds in the middle, exposing a handle that makes carrying much easier than normal. Packing and stowage are likewise simple. But, does it ride? Read on to find out.

The BoardUp Brand

BoardUp is a father-and-son operation based in California. As the story goes, the family was on a Hawaiian vacation when they noticed a longboarder struggling to take his board on the plane as a carry-on. Being an engineer, the father (Bin Lu) soon began problem solving.

After some trial and error, the pair settled on the current design of the BoardUp. Essentially, it is just a normal longboard, which has been cut in half. In the middle there is a plastic hinge that users can lock in either the open or closed positions.

Here’s a short intro video:

Who’s it For?

The target audience here is people who need a portable longboard but do not want to sacrifice the ability to enjoy riding a real board when they reach their destination. It is easy enough to fulfill one or the other of those requirements.

A small plastic board can tuck away easily, but the ride is cramped. Traveling with a full-size longboard causes all sorts of headaches, though the ride is great. Combining the two is a stroke of genius, but does the BoardUp really do the job? Who’s this thing really for?

The Wary Traveler

By virtue of its design inspiration, it would seem obvious to say that the BoardUp is perfect for travelers – especially airline passengers. Folding down to just 17 inches in length (from a full length of 33 inches), the BoardUp stows effortless under an airliner seat. Upon arrival, you’re ready to rip.

The same is true for virtually any other mode of public transport. The folding and locking mechanisms on the BoardUp are secure and solid, so there’s no worries about it opening up in route and becoming a problem. Unfolded, it is just like riding any other longboard.

The Dutiful Commuter

One does not need to be on a long trip or vacation to get use out of the BoardUp. It is also well suited for students, as it will tuck away easily in a classroom setting. Any other commuter should find its foldability useful as well. Be it an office or a locker, the BoardUp really does store just about anywhere.

Commuters also tend to need a longboard that is both easy to ride and maneuverable. The BoardUp is both. With cutaways at the nose and tail, the board turns sharply, aided by conventional trucks with tight, 6-inch axles. Pedestrians and sharp turns pass by without drama.

Tight Living Quarters

Another subcategory of riders who might find the BoardUp intriguing is those with limited living or storage space at home. Whether it be someone living in a garage apartment or a teenager with only a closet available, many people can relate to living with a lack of space.

A BoardUp can practically disappear in such a setting. Tuck it away under a bed or at the rear of a closet, and you’ll never notice it’s there. Then, when it’s time to skate, the BoardUp is ready to roll with a simple, one-step unfolding process.

Components and Features

Okay, so we’ve established that the BoardUp is a portable longboard with few (if any) equals. But what about the components? Is it really road worthy, or is it a gimmick? Let’s check out the included components and see if it is worth riding.

Deck

The first place to start on any complete longboard – foldable or not – is the deck. Everything else is replaceable and possibly upgradeable. What you’re really buying is the board. In this case that is a deck consisting of 7 layers of Canadian maple plus a fiberglass layer, which adds strength without adding rigidity.

The two halves have a gentle amount of give that prevents breakage, but you’ll never notice it with the hinge flex. Unfolded, the BoardUp measures 33 inches in length, which is about the same as the average popsicle (trick) skateboard. It measures just 17 inches when folded.

Trucks

The trucks on the BoardUp are a bit unusual for a full-size longboard. They are all-aluminum, with conventional kingpin placement and 6-inch-wide axles. The wheelbase a bit longer than normal for a board of this length, which counteracts the usual twitchiness of conventional trucks.

The trucks also utilize a short profile, so the axles are closer than normal to the deck. While this lowers the ride, it also increases stability, especially in turns. There are also multiple sets of predrilled bolt holes for wheelbase adjustment. Users can opt to use reverse-kingpin trucks, but their height will keep the Boardup from folding as closely.

Wheels

The wheels on the BoardUp are the usual, unbranded, high-rebounding urethane for a complete longboard. Their durometer measurement is unlisted, but suffice it to say they are relatively soft. The ride is smooth and road cracks or debris are no problem.

When it is time to replace the urethane, users would be wise to stick to the same (or smaller) size wheels. The included ones are 75 mm tall and have a 55 mm contact patch. You can go as tall as 83 mm, but any taller will keep the hinge from locking when the BoardUp is folded.

Bearings

So, every complete longboard has an Achilles’ heel, and the bearings are that for the BoardUp. While the manufacturer claims they are ABEC-9, and they may be, there are issues with consistency. Some users complain of short lives on one or two bearings in their sets.

Honestly, though, bearings are easy enough to replace. And the wheels and axles on the BoardUp accept standard skateboard bearings. Upgrading with whatever bearing you like is a common thing to do for any rider, especially when purchasing a complete longboard.

Folding Mechanism

So this is where the urethane meets the road for this particular longboard. The folding mechanism for the BoardUp is purpose-made. You won’t find it anywhere else on anything else. It is made from aluminum alloy, so it is both lightweight and strong.

There is a metal plate on the nose section, which a user depresses to unlock in either the folded or unfolded position. If this plate is not depressed, the board will not unlock. It does not open accidentally, and it is as solid as many one-piece longboards during riding. There is a modest amount of flex, similar to that of a bamboo deck.

There is also a T-shaped carrying handle, which hides in a cutout in the middle of the deck when it’s folded out.

Is the BoardUp necessary?

Riders who have little to no need for a storable, portable longboard may indeed wonder if the BoardUp is anything other than a gimmick. True, it has the look of a product that solves a problem almost no one has. However, if you’ve ever tried to put away a 36-inch longboard when no space is available, you’ll get the niche.

Best of all, you wouldn’t even know that the BoardUp is foldable when you’re riding it. It carves nice and easy, but with a purpose. It’s ride is more like that of a board about 36 inches long, mellow but still maneuverable. The little bit of flex from the hinge actually helps the BoardUp carve a little better.

Will the mechanism last?

Kitschy though it may seem, the BoardUp is no joke. The locking mechanism is all metal and all business. It can easily support the weight of a full-size human. The inherent flex distributes downward force in the same way as a regular longboard’s flex does, preventing breakage.

Purpose-built from aluminum alloy by and for BoardUp, the mechanism went through several phases of design and redesign before the engineer and his test subject son decided it was ready for market. In the end what you have is an excellent representation of what a small team can accomplish when it identifies a specific problem and devises a simple solution.

If you’re not thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” you’re either not a skater or not an engineer.

Conclusion

The BoardUp would be just another example in a long string of useless but well-thought-out products if it didn’t ride, but it does. The fact that riders forget they are on a folding skateboard attests to its success. In use, the BoardUp can stand up to a majority of non-folding longboards.

When clicked into travel mode, though, this contraption proves its mettle. Until now travelers wanting to ride on vacation either had to struggle en route or while riding. Thanks to this inventive gadget, those riders can now have it all.

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